A memorial to Emma Lindley

From James Duggan, A composite memory

It would be nice if I had taken the picture above while I was with Emma… but no. I find that during the 6 years I knew her I didn’t take a single photo of Emma or have one of the two of us together. I don’t like taking photos and anyway pictures are always there, taken by others, available online… and I always thought Emma would be there, to text, to make plans with, to drink tea and visit the pictures, to chat and laugh with, to ask advice and be offered it when I didn’t ask but needed it anyway… only now she’s not. There’s no single memory, poem or song I can think of that sums her up or what she meant to me.

I can pull together a composite memory of her while she was well sitting in her living room, the books she’d read from the classics to the high-brow literature and poetry lining the walls, the musical instruments she played so well, the photos of treasured places, and her ideas and laughter and conversation filling the room. When she was unwell, especially at the very beginning she was like a twister that had breathed in a firework display and exhaled something spectacular. Wearing 8 layers and 12 colours of clothes, she would chain smoke and talk incessantly in a Yorkshire accent, a bit like Alan Bennett on amphetamine, talking about Gerda, talking about Jules, talking about gossip from Keighley, the nephews and nieces of people I didn’t know, ideas, hopes, plans… too much for a single mind… then she would be off. It was too much to keep up with her let alone protect her…

The picture is of a tree in Marie Louise Gardens in Didsbury. As autumn falls I’ve spent many happy afternoons walking around the park. Tree lined and removed from the street it feels like a haven in a big city. There are squirrels everywhere, running, romping, inquisitive and playful. Couples walk arm in arm, meandering beneath the foliage, or lovingly chase their children as they in turn chase the squirrels. I can imagine many possible happy futures for Emma walking around this park… but these have slipped away…

Marie Louise Gardens

The picture makes me think of Emma. The branches line the picture, veins of darkness that crack the image. An intricate patchwork of red and golden leaves glowing yet leaving shade beneath. And in the gaps a brilliantly blue clear sky high above, Emma at her best, the peace I hope she’s found.
She was my friend. I miss her so very much.

So, what do you think ?